Old Town Toronto BIA (formerly The St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA)

It all began in 1793 as the Town of York and the creation of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood.  People lived and worked there, traded and sold, gathered to socialize and attend church or, on occasion, to form secret alliances and plan rebellions and uprisings.  Today, St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood continues to be a place where old and new coexist, where heritage buildings stand alongside modern condominiums and businesses.

You can travel back in time and explore the original 10 blocks of the city in the Town of York, wander the Victorian lanes of Corktown and discover 19th Century architecture in Queen Street East.  Or take a selfie with our historic re-enactors and artisans and explore life as it was in the 1800’s.  Marvel at the heritage architecture of St. Lawrence Hall, the Flatiron Building, St. James Cathedral and the Distillery factory complex.

Old Town Toronto is a place to eat whether at one of the many fine dining restaurants or relaxing with a pint at a friendly pub.  Hungry office workers and shoppers congregate at the 215 year old St. Lawrence Market to enjoy a wide array of international gourmet treats or stock up on fresh, locally grown produce.  In August, the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA’s signature festival Feast of St. Lawrence celebrates this area as a food destination with a 2-day event focused on eating local, raising funds for a food charity and healthy fun for the whole family. Lovers of the arts flock to see world class live performances of theatre, dance and music on Front Street and frequent the fine art galleries in the Distillery District.  Enjoy free concerts and movies in St. James Park and lunchtime music or a performance of a Sheakespeare play in Berczy Park during the summer, all presented by the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA.

Rebellions still occur but in the unique fine home decor and design stores of King Street East where designers defy convention and create modern innovations.  It’s all part of what makes Old Town Toronto a destination for everyone.

Historical Sites and Attractions

Old Town Toronto Heritage Landscape and Resources Guide 

Today, Toronto’s Old Town has one of the largest concentrations of 19th century buildings in Ontario, and is a tremendous heritage resource. The  Heritage Landscape and Resource Guide, developed by Citizens for the Old Town, a grassroots community organization in the Old Town,  provides foundational information on sources for Old Town researchers and document the changing urban and heritage landscape of the Old Town. It also provides a Heritage Landscape Field Guide  to  one of the oldest parts of the city and  the individual sites or buildings  identified as locally, provincially or nationally significant.

First Parliament Site 

The first Parliament buildings of Upper Canada stood from 1797 to 1813, when they were burned by American forces during the War of 1812. They consisted of two one-and-one-half storey, brick structures. The Parliament site also had a military presence, the town blockhouse was built in 1799.

In 1820, a new seat of government was built on the same site. It reconstructed the original buildings as wings and filled the space between with a central block. It stood until 1824, when it also burned – this time accidentally. In 1837-1840, the Home District Gaol was built on the site. The limestone gaol featured a five-storey central tower and two three-storey radial wings. It was used only from 1840 to 1864. In 1887, the Consumers’ Gas Company, erected an office building that faced Front Street and was flanked by two retort buildings, extending 80 metres from Front Street along Berkeley and Parliament streets.  The site of the first Parliament buildings of Upper Canada is of Local, Provincial and National significance.